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Managing Agile Projects Paperback – May 12 2005

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 18 reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Inconsistent, imprecise, and too much of a CCPace advertisement Aug. 14 2005
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
I admired the goal of this book - to introduce the ideas of agile project management and to bridge the gap between the tomes describing methodologies and the concrete role that managers and leaders play on agile teams. A book that did that well would indeed be a worthy first gift to a new manager. Unfortunately, this isn't that book.

The inconsistent messages made it difficult to pull out concrete recommendations. For example, one of the key activities identified for a manager is to "monitor and adapt" to the team and corporate cultures. Later, though, he talks about entering situations sight-unseen with the goal to institute and enforce all of the rules of XP on a subject organization to the letter.

Lack of detail hurt the sections on catering a process to an organization. He goes into some detail on how to characterize the current culture and profile of the environment you're about to work in, but then just shows two extremes and potential "process cocktails" that might work for them. I would've loved to see, in addition, a list of the practices that you might try to roll out, and the specific elements of an organization's profile that make them more or less applicable so that a manager can come up with their own or at least know what negative experiences to expect.

Finally, the consulting company he works for comes across as some sort of omniscient savior. Either he's been extremely lucky or things are being sugar-coated. As he points out, agile projects are "chaordic" - right on the border between chaos and order. Real boats rock, and many of the best lessons in practical application come from the experiences of overcorrection or failing to act. I'd argue any significant project attempting to roll out agile methods will have some of those bumps along the way, and anyone who claims otherwise is trying to sell you something.

I did enjoy the section on creating an conveying the project vision - he's quite correct that in a situation where you're relying a lot on the team to self-organize, communicating and reinforcing that vision and the team's goals are probably the top success factor for the project.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Good book, weak opening sections Sept. 3 2006
By James Holmes - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a solid book, but suffers from a very slow start. The first quarter of the book seems filled with too much mystical hand waving and too many buzzwords. The entire opening quarter of the book is stuffed with referenecs to "chordic edges" and "holographic formal structures." A few of the buzzwords get defined and used later on, but the overabundance of them was like fingers on a chalkboard. There are also a few irritants such as charts with poor explanations, or the assertion that test-driven development is an approach "specific to XP."

Things pick up greatly after chapter 3, however. The remainder of the book is solid, very useful, and full of great information for building and maintaining a solid development team. There's a lot of great focus on bringing value to the customer, and there are practical examples for all of the various aspects of running an agile project.

You'll find handy tables and explanations detailing estimation, task backlogs and job jars, and several great discussions on how to keep communication flowing with your customer. The sections on clearly establishing service criteria at the start of the project, and the clever use of sliders to help define success critieria, were nicely done.

Overall it's a very good book. The opening three or four chapters drag down what's otherwise a solid addition to my bookshelf. I'll get a good amount of use out of the book.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Practical yet thought-provoking Sept. 23 2005
By Michael Cohn - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a very practical yet thought-provoking book. The book brings in a lot of thinking from complex adaptive systems to bear on the problem of managing agile projects. A lot of early agile thinking was that the role of the manager was to buy pizza and get out of the way. This book shows how the role of the agile project manager goes well beyond that and provides very specific activities to be performed by agile project managers.

The book covers topics (such as how to best organize an agile team or teams) that are glossed over elsewhere. Particularly useful may be the chapter on how to transition to an agile process. Among the specific principles and activities recommended in this book are certainly some that will immediately help your current project.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Managing Agile Projects June 30 2010
By Eddie Hutchinson - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I fear I may have made a poor choice in choosing this book as my introduction to Agile Project Management (APM). Although the book outlines some of the main principles of Agile Methodology quite well, it often leans towards the author's area of expertise, Extreme Programming (XP). In the book's introduction it is suggested that if you were new to APM it may be a good idea to start at Chapter 10: "Transitioning From The Familiar", then return to beginning of the book. I followed the suggestion but that should've given me a clue.
On the positive side, each chapter is contains activities that can be implemented to put Agile methodology to practice. For example, in the Chapter dedicated to APM practice, Open Information, some of the activities described there include: Collocate Team Members, Use of Information Radiators, Conduct Daily Stand-Up Meetings, etc...
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Practical, Complete, Elegant, Intuitive July 3 2005
By F. Douglas DeCarlo - Published on
Format: Paperback
"Light Touch" is one of the key Agile Project Management practices described by Sanjiv Augustine. Among other things, Light Touch means "managing the flow of customer value ..."

And that's exactly what the author delivers in this book: a continual flow of value for the agile project manager. What I especially like about this book is that it is simply written and provides straight forward, proven and actionable advice.

I think that some of the best books are the ones that read us. As I read Mr. Augustine's model for agile project management, I find myself saying, "Yes, yes, that's what I thought I thought but hadn't put it into words."

This book is complete. One of its unique qualities is that it provides the reader with a holistic model for agile project management including sound project management practices as well as fundamental leadership practices. Most books on project management, either deal with one or the other. For agile projects, management and leadership are inseparable.

A great feature of the book is the inside front cover that serves as a snappy, bulleted overview of Mr. Augustine's entire model which is made up of Three Guiding Principles: Foster Alignment and Cooperation, Encourage Emergence and Self Organization and Institute Learning and Adaptation. Each of these principles is delineated into both project management and leadership practices. And these provide the framework for the entire book which is full of examples, specific practices and tools.

And although this book is written primarily for software projects, the principles and practices can be applied to any agile project.

Doug DeCarlo